Bali Lessons: Fearless Love...Without Agenda
Try to think about all the things you fear or worry about. For your kids, your relationships, your parents, yourself. Little things and big things.
"I'm afraid something terrible will happen to my kids."
"I worry about running out of money."
"I'm afraid my mother in law will be critical of my parenting."
"I worry that I'm too ugly to be worthy of sex."
"I'm afraid if I do what makes me happy, my husband will be disappointed."
"I worry about my parents getting sick."
"I'm afraid I will get fat."
"I worry that I will embarrass myself."
"I'm afraid my daughter will never learn math."
"I worry that my kids would be better off with a different kind of mother."
"I'm afraid other kids will tease my son."
"I worry that I'm not living up to my potential."
"I'm afraid I'm failing my family."
"I worry about giving up my career."
"I'm afraid I'll look terrible in the dress I bought for my cousin's wedding."
"I worry about NOT giving up my career."
"I'm afraid my friends don't like me."
When I visited Bali, I was a hot mess about a bunch of crap in my life: my marriage was in the toilet, the kids were struggling in school, I had no idea if we should stay in Spain or come back to the US, I was burned out with my job, and that's just the highlight reel. Life was coming to a head and I needed some distance, a break and HELP. Having an uninterrupted respite from my life had become my only hope of unsticking my head from my ass before we passed the point of no return, and it was stuck up there forever!
The break itself helped a ton - sometimes distance and perspective can do wonders! But, what changed it from a break into a turning point was the regular meditation I did while I was there. This post isn't about how everyone should meditate and it's the key to everything. I know from my own experience that you're either ready to give it a try, (in which case you don't need my advice), or you are a big HELL NO and nothing I say will change that. I came to meditation kicking and screaming; I know first-hand how hard it is to convince someone to do it! Instead, I want to focus on something that came out of all that navel-gazing.
Fearless love without agenda.
Is it corny? Hell yeah it is; this is a freaking post about lessons a spoiled white lady learned in Bali! What did you expect? Even 'Eat Pray Love' can't pass a corn-free test. It ain't possible! So get ready to corn it up, mama!
Here's the corn: The worries and fears we carry are stopping us from having the outcomes we want. In fact, most of the time they are actually creating the thing we're afraid of. Example: A mom's biggest fear is that she'll lose closeness with her child as they go through adolescence. That fear leads her to disallow her child to socialize on their own, deny them privacy or independence, get involved in all their friendships, and forbid dating. The child begins to hide things from their mother, to keep secrets and sneak away. Result? Destruction of the closeness they used to share and a rock-solid groundwork for some epic fights (which will even further undermine their relationship). This plays out time and again, in parent-child dynamics, marriages, friendships, and in how we relate to ourselves.
Example 2: In the beginning of my marriage, when I was a glorified teenager of 21 years, I mistook pretty much every word out of anyone's mouth as a criticism (OK I still do that too much - I'm working on it!). AND sometimes Mike really was criticizing me, but that is actually irrelevant. I felt like who I was, wasn't who he wanted. My monkey brain decided my soft baby underbelly wasn't safe in the harsh world; better hide that away. I withdrew in subtle ways (less physicality, more defensiveness, etc.). I wasn't really giving my true self to the world. I was afraid that being myself and doing what made me happy would mess up my relationship. Result? I messed up my relationship! I held myself back because I was afraid my energy, love, desires, etc, wouldn't be reciprocated or would just get stomped on. What got in the way of me being who I wanted to be in my marriage, and eventually feeling trapped and stifled, wasn't Mike, or our circumstances; it was my own fears.
Go back to that list up there. How would you show up in the world if you knew (for sure, guaranteed) that all the things you fear and worry about were definitely never going to happen? What if you knew that it was all going to be OK? You'll get the job, your kids will grow up happy and healthy, you're going to look amazing at your cousin's wedding, etc. If you KNEW that was true, who would you be? How would you act? What would you say to your kids? How would you love your partner? Who would you be in your friendships?
Is it possible to know if the things we fear will come true? No, of course not. But it really doesn't matter. Because the person you would be if you knew it would all be OK, is the best version of you. It's the person you can be, even when it ISN'T ok. It's the person who creates a life where 90% of those fears don't happen, and it's the person who knows how to rise above the 10% that do happen.
That's the whole 'fearless love' bit. Just quit it with the fear stuff. Go hug your kid, get laid, quit your job, go topless at the beach (no tan lines!), be yourself and piss off the world. It's gonna be great.
This is a to-be-continued post. The '...without agenda' bit will be coming next. The human mind can only absorb a finite amount of corn in one sitting.